Queens join kings: title for UConn women, too

Dan Miller

NEW ORLEANS – It was 40 degrees Tuesday in Storrs, Conn., but UConn is the place to be after Connecticut’s women’s basketball team beat Tennessee 70-61 on Tuesday night at New Orleans Arena, joining the Huskies men’s team that won its national title Monday in San Antonio.

It is the first time that a university has won both the men’s and women’s basketball titles in the same season.

“It’s unbelievable,” Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said. “It’s mind-boggling – an unbelievable accomplishment for our university.”

At many points, it looked like the Huskies women’s team would blow the game open. But different Volunteers hit big shots to keep themselves close.

In the end, though, Connecticut was too powerful.

The Huskies’ potent offense and depth was enough to hold off the charging Volunteers and give Connecticut its third-straight national championship.

Diana Taurasi, named the tournament’s most outstanding player, showed her top-notch game, leading the Huskies with 17 points.

The senior has now won three championships in her time at Connecticut, making the Final Four each year.

“It wasn’t easy, but we showed we have a lot of character,” Taurasi said.

“UConn domination, bottom line,” she said.

Tennessee’s Shanna Zolman scored 19 points to lead the Volunteers. She made three three-point baskets and added a team-high nine rebounds.

Zolman kept the game from being blown open in the opening minutes of the second half. She hit two three-pointers and scored 10 points in the first 4:57 of the half. Tasha Butts cut the Huskies’ lead to 41-38 with two free throws with 14:33 left.

Brittany Jackson hit a deep three-pointer to cut the Huskies’ lead to 50-48 with 9:51 remaining. But the Huskies once again weathered the storm.

Auriemma was chomping his gum at an incredible rate in the final minutes of the first half.

He had seen his Huskies build a 16-point lead and then allow Tennessee to climb back into the game as they ended the half on an 11-0 run and cut the Connecticut lead to 30-24.

After a timeout with 8:12 remaining, the Volunteers mounted a 13-3 run to end the half, as LaToya Davis scored inside 19.2 seconds before halftime to give the Volunteers hope, down only six points.